Consumer sovereignty in the framework of social justice, economic equality and environmental balance, within and across borders


  • Critics open fire over corporate influence

    June 5, 2014

    BERLIN – For many months, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) debates between the European Commission (EC) and the U.S. government were a matter for insiders.

    In July 2013, government officials and representatives of international corporations agreed behind closed doors that such a free trade agreement (FTA) would be a great step forward towards homogenising social, environmental, health, industrial, and labour standards across the Atlantic Ocean.

    Until recently, only a handful of civil society organisations, mostly based in Brussels, questioned the wisdom of such an agreement, and revealed the secret dealings of governments, in particular those referring to the so-called ‘investor protection clauses’ and the downgrading of social and environmental standards in Europe, to the detriment of European consumers and parliaments.
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  • UN meeting final hope in fight to save planet

    June 5, 2014

    MELBOURNE – Humanity has just about run out of time to address climate change. Scientists have pointed out that a rise in temperature of 2º Celsius above pre-industrial levels will put the Earth in dangerous, uncharted territory. Yet we currently are on a path toward an increase of 4º or more this century. The last chance for action has arrived.

    That chance lies in Paris in December 2015, when the world’s governments meet for the 21st annual United Nations climate-change meeting. But this time will be different. Either governments will agree to decisive action, as they have promised, or we will look back at 2015 as the year when climate sanity slipped through our fingers.
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  • The Fine Print: Legal & Tax Insight

    June 02, 2014

    According to the Constitution of 2008, the Union must “prevent acts that injure public interest through monopolization or manipulation of prices by an individual or group with intent to endanger fair competition in economic activities”.

    The 2013 Telecommunications Law contains a chapter on anti-competitive practices in the telecom sector. However, there is no general law prohibiting unfair competition and the abuse of monopolies as of today.
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  • Competition body probes power, telco firms

    June 2, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines–The government body tasked to ensure fair competition is investigating power firms as well as scrutinizing telecommunication services in a bid to protect consumers against monopolies, cartels and unfair trade practices.

    Since a single encompassing competition law is yet to be put in place, the Department of Justice’s Office for Competition (DOJ-OFC)—formed in 2011 under Executive Order (EO) No. 45—has initially focused on three sectors where it was “likely to achieve the greatest impact” in terms of consumer protection, namely energy, telecommunications and transport, Justice Assistant Secretary and OFC head Geronimo L. Sy told the Inquirer.
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  • A blessing in disguise

    May 31, 2014

    Free trade agreements may offer a solution to Vietnam’s trade deficit with China in the current context.

    In recent weeks, China’s decision to install an oilrig, protected by various escort ships and planes, in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone has sparked public outrage in the latter. The conflict has escalated as China becomes increasingly aggressive. Some even worry about the possibility of China retaliating on the economic front.
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  • Are European Telcos Using Competition Law to Fight Against Competition from Facebook-WhatsApp Merger?

    May 28, 2014

    The Wall Street Journal published a story today on Facebook requesting that the European Commission, not individual domestic competition regulators, review its recent transaction to acquire WhatsApp. The announcement came as a surprise as the acquisition already sailed through U.S. approval and, as the WSJ points out, the EC “wasn’t expected to review the deal because the acquisition is unlikely to materially boost Facebook’s revenues.”

    Although Facebook’s request might seem strange on the surface, it follows on the footsteps of political pressure from European telecom companies to oppose the deal. Given that many European countries have monopoly (or near monopoly) telecom companies that until recently were state-owned, fighting for merger approval in a many individual countries against politically powerful local incumbents doesn’t seem like a great proposition.
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  • Trans-Pacific free-trade pact ‘old-fashioned’: ex-WTO chief

    May 28, 2014

    Plans for a vast trans-Pacific free trade pact including the United States and Australia were “good” but “old-fashioned”, former World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy said on Wednesday.

    Lamy, who stood down from the WTO in September, also said that cutting tariffs was no longer the force it once was in advancing trade, in comments to Fairfax newspapers.

    “The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement Australia is negotiating with the US and 10 other countries, it’s a good, old-fashioned agreement,” Lamy told The Age.
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  • Geographical indications increase value

    May 28, 2014

    HA NOI — The registration of geographical indications (GIs) will not only protect trademarks and consumers but also help Vietnamese goods to penetrate into large markets.

    Delphine Marie-Vivien from the Centre for International Co-operation in Agronomic Research (CIRAD) announced at the workshop on Geographical Indications held in Ha Noi yesterday that Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which Viet Nam has been negotiating, will bring both opportunities and challenges, such as trademark disputes, for businesses.
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